2013 Audi RS6 Avant revealed

* Audi RS6 Avant unveiled * New 4.0-litre V8 engine produces 552bhp * 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds; capable of 190mph...

This is the new Audi RS6 Avant, the latest in a long line of high-performance estate cars from the German manufacturer.

The latest RS6 Avant switches from the previous car's twin-turbocharged V10 engine to a new 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8. It features cylinder-deactivation technology which deactivates cylinders when under light engine loads in a bid to improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions. As a result, it emits around 100g/km less CO2 than the outgoing car, at 229g/km.

The RS6's performance figures don't appear to have been compromised by the efficiency gains, though. The new engine produces 552bhp and 516lb ft of torque; that's enough to blast the RS6 Avant from 0-62mph in just 3.9sec. Of all Audis in the range, only the V10 version of the R8 supercar accelerates quicker.

The regular top speed for the car will be 174mph, although a higher top speed of 190mph will be available as an option.

The RS6's chassis set-up gets a wider track at the front and rear, with a particularly large increase at the back. Audi's Dynamic Mode with selectable levels of suspension stiffness and steering weight will be offered as an option, although it was standard in the UK on the previous-generation model. We hope this might be the case again on this version.

The car gets wider wings throughout, although their appearance is more subtle than the 'blisters' seen on the smaller RS4. The front of the car gets deep air intakes and prominent 'quattro' badges on the honeycomb lower grille a nod, say the car's designers, to the 30th anniversary of the Quattro sub-division in 2013. A number of external parts, including the rear diffuser, will be available in carbonfibre as options.

Audi sources have already stated that there will not be a saloon version of the RS6; that points towards an RS-tuned version of the A7 instead.

While prices have yet to be confirmed, the RS6 Avant is expected to cost around 77,000, with UK deliveries starting in July.

By John McIlroy